Now is a good time to restructure and revamp your account management team.

change client management

Sometimes making a small change can transform the whole organization.

How best to improve account management? Many agencies can’t keep up with the new high-energy clients emerging in this new marketing era. Typically the real causes of account management problems are surprising to agency management. Many times it’s agency structure. Often it’s the lack of knowledge and training. Sometimes it’s a destructive agency culture. Not infrequently it’s a leadership issue, and many times it’s a client compensation factor (the agency is being bullied and doesn’t see a way out).

Below are some ideas on new ways to work with clients that puts the emphasis on service and strategic insight.

7 Steps To Energize Client Service:

1. Ramp-up Productivity: Evaluate your current agency structure and method of operating from top to bottom. Look for different ways to organize the agency. Determine if moving to some type of team structure would improve productivity, client satisfaction and operating margins.

2. Implement Client Personality Profiling: Profile current clients in order to work with them better. Focus on do’s and don’ts: set up the best way to present to key clients and the best areas for organic growth. Avoid conflict areas and deliver what the clients want in the way they can best understand. Build agency spirit and teamwork.

3. Build Agency Passion: Agency culture must be set and not “just happen,” and your account management team needs to take responsibility. Culture is important in boosting morale and improving results. Clients notice when the culture is one of resentment or denial. Develop a culture that respects and works for clients. Set up the right culture for your agency and get staff buy-in, and challenge the account service team with leading the charge.

4. Digitally Transform Your Process: Face-to-face meetings have given way to Skype and emails. Simply sending an email seems quick and easy, but it’s by no means the most effective means of client communication. Implement a digital project management system that will expand your influence throughout the client organization. Start with developing a list of system wants and needs. Evaluate which developers offer the best alternative and decide what features are most important. Revise your internal estimating, budgeting, tracking and trafficking processes so the system can be used most efficiently.

5. Negotiate More with Clients: The most powerful lesson that agencies must learn is how to determine if any money is still on the table. Every year millions are lost by agencies by not understanding how to discover the real budget. You must stress the importance of negotiating with clients over every project and every budget to your staff. They need to work harder setting up more opportunities to negotiate and determine best ways to talk with clients about money. Create a rule that the budget for any project must be set before any work is undertaken. And make sure to use every change request as a chance to negotiate.

6. Remember to Sell the Magic: Today many agencies seem to present clients with the “here-it-is-hope-you-like-it” approach. There is no sizzle, no magic, and more importantly, no understanding. Only the safe work gets accepted, and the high-risk, high-reward, award-winning work gets cut. Agencies need to use mind maps, logic trails and emotion signs to help clients first understand and then accept the agency’s point of view. Different clients need to see the information and logic of your creative in a way they can best understand. Not all clients are the same, and if your agency is not using different strategies for each client… you’re losing.

7. Increase Organic Growth: The importance of organic growth to agency profitability is clear, but most firms fail to establish a plan for doing so. Agencies must rank each client’s potential and where the best opportunities are. Set up an organic growth plan for each key client, and use value-based initiatives to increase fees and projects. Today, more than ever, account management must understand how to avoid written proposals and lengthy sales cycles. Go in with the idea and offer to put some skin in the game. Set up realistic organic growth goals and implement a way to measure and track success.

Confused About Which Way to Go with Your Account Management Team?

Start with a top-to-bottom evaluation of your agency’s service level and account management potential. Focus the agency on growing revenue and greater client satisfaction. Hold a general meeting with the account management group to look at your current way of working with clients, what clients want, and what is causing any client dissatisfaction.

High Gear is a great first step to outline many of the ways agencies can overcome the new market realities and start to implement a new way of working. Invest today and protect your most valuable asset: your relationships with clients. For schedule information contact Sanders Consulting Group by email at [email protected] or call 412.897.9329


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